Facebook board upholds Trump ban

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 1936 GMT (0336 HKT) May 5, 2021
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9:15 a.m. ET, May 5, 2021

Oversight board upholds Facebook decision to ban Trump, but says platform should review penalty

From CNN's Brian Fung

Facebook can keep blocking former President Trump from using its platform, the social network's court-like Oversight Board said Wednesday. The landmark move affirms the company's decision to suspend Trump in January after the US Capitol riots.

However, the board said Facebook must review the decision within six months.

"Within six months of this decision, Facebook must reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty," the board wrote in its decision. "This penalty must be based on the gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm. It must also be consistent with Facebook's rules for severe violations, which must, in turn, be clear, necessary and proportionate."

The board also criticized Facebook for having made the suspension indefinite. "In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities," the decision said.

The decision also applies to Facebook-owned Instagram where Trump has an account. Trump has almost 60 million followers across Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook suspended Trump's account following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and later referred that decision to the board, an independent body which has the power to reverse Facebook content decisions and set precedent for the company.

8:47 a.m. ET, May 5, 2021

Facebook announced this decision was coming 2 days ago

From CNN's Richard Davis and Brian Fung

In just a few moments, The Facebook Oversight Board will announce its long-anticipated decision on the fate of former President Trump's Facebook account.

The decision is expected to drop at 9 a.m. ET. Facebook announced on Monday that this decision would be released today.

The Board said last month that it had received more than 9,000 public responses concerning Trump's indefinite suspension from Facebook and Instagram.

8:58 a.m. ET, May 5, 2021

Here's a reminder of what happened to Trump's Facebook account

From CNN's Donie O'Sullivan

President Donald Trump speaks at the "Stop The Steal" Rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. 
President Donald Trump speaks at the "Stop The Steal" Rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. 

Former President Trump was suspended "indefinitely" from Facebook and Instagram on Jan. 7, a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to overturn the 2020 election results. 

Zuckerberg wrote at the time, "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great."

Twitter and YouTube took similar steps, citing an ongoing risk of violence and incitement.

The decision of Facebook's oversight board on whether Trump should be allowed back on the platform is supposed to be binding, meaning Facebook is supposed to take the action.

The board will publish its decision on its website along with an explanation of how it reached the decision. It will not, however, make public who on the board voted which way; the board members are not supposed to reveal that information themselves either.

The board's decision will be announced at 9 a.m. ET today. 

You can read more about the board and today's decision here.

8:30 a.m. ET, May 5, 2021

What you need to know about the board deciding whether Trump can return to Facebook

From CNN's Donie O'Sullivan

The question of whether former President Trump should be allowed back on Facebook is the biggest, most contentious and most controversial single content moderation decision the company has ever made.

So who's going to make that call? Well, surprisingly, not company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The decision will instead be made by the Facebook Oversight Board, an independent body often described as a kind of Supreme Court for Facebook. The board's decision will be announced this morning.

Here are key things to know about the board:

  • What is the Facebook Oversight Board? The board is an independent, court-like entity for appealing content decisions on Facebook-owned platforms. It's made up of 20 experts in areas like free expression, human rights, and journalism. Content moderation decisions — for instance, removing or not removing a particular post — made by Facebook and Instagram can be appealed to the board once users have gone all the way through the company's internal review process. Facebook says that decisions made by the board are final. Facebook first announced its intention to form an independent entity to vet content decisions in November 2018. After some delay, the company announced in October 2020 that the board would begin to hear cases.
  • Who is on the board? Included among the 20 current members of the board are notable individuals from around the world, including Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former prime minister of Denmark; Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of The Guardian; and Tawakkol Karman, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who promoted non-violent change in Yemen during the Arab Springa movement in which social media played an important role.
  • But the board is just going to do whatever Facebook wants, right? Nope. The board is designed to be independent of Facebook, according to its charter. Facebook funds a trust that, in turn, funds the board. The trustees are "responsible for safeguarding the independence" of the board. Critics of the company argue the board is not truly independent and is a "Facebook-paid, Facebook-appointed body created by Facebook to use to launder its most politically sensitive decisions."
  • Does Facebook have to do what the board says? A decision made by the board "will be binding and Facebook will implement it promptly, unless implementation of a resolution could violate the law," according to the board's charter.

Read more here.

8:36 a.m. ET, May 5, 2021

The Facebook Oversight Board will soon announce its decision on Trump's fate on Facebook

From CNN's Richard Davis and Brian Fung

The Facebook Oversight Board will announce its long-anticipated decision on the fate of former President Trump's Facebook account at 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

The Board said last month that it had received more than 9,000 public responses concerning Trump's indefinite suspension from Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook suspended Trump's account following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and later referred that decision to the court-like Oversight Board, an independent body which has the power to reverse Facebook content decisions and set precedent for the company.

Trump was suspended "indefinitely" from Facebook and Instagram on Jan. 7, a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to overturn the 2020 election results. Twitter and YouTube took similar steps, citing an ongoing risk of violence and incitement.

"We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote at the time.

Later that month, Facebook asked the Oversight Board for a ruling on whether to let Trump's suspension stand, saying the significance of the matter warranted its independent review.